THE PHILADELPHIA STORY

(1940)
With Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young, Virginia Weilder
Directed by George Cukor
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

The Philadelphia Story       After Katharine Hepburn was declared "box-office poison" in 1938, she left Hollywood and headed for Broadway to star in Philip Barry's THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, playing a role Barry wrote with her in mind.  When the play was a hit, she was savvy enough to purchase the film rights, and thus reignited her movie career.  Spoiled but endearing socialite Tracy Lord is so Kate Hepburn in every way, I suspect "high cheekbones" was part of Barry's character description.  Hepburn wanted Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy for the film's male leads; the studio gave her Cary Grant and James Stewart.  ("Not bad for second fiddle," she said in later years.)  The film concerns Tracy's upcoming marriage to pompous twit George Kittredge (John Howard).  After having failed in her first marriage to charming bad boy C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant), she is now determined to settle down with a man more objectively "perfect" than one suited to her needs and temperament.  Reporter Mike Connor (Stewart) is assigned to cover the Lord-Kittredge wedding for a tabloid rag and winds up falling for Tracy himself.  To further complicate matters, Dexter is also hanging around the Lord mansion, hoping that whatever torch Tracy once had for him isn't completely extinguished.  A truly great comedy with three screen legends in top form, backed by one of finest comic supporting casts ever assembled -- and it's the only place to hear an interpretation of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" other than Groucho's.   - JL

Screwball Comedy     Jimmy Stewart     Cary Grant     The Stuff You Gotta Watch


Remakes
High Society (1956)

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